Whom Shall We Kill? How Shall We Kill Them?

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun once said, “I shall no longer tinker with the machinery of death.” What about the use of statistics to address these questions?

A 2012 report from the National Research Council concluded that statistics concerning the deterrence, or lack of thereof, of the death penalty should be ignored. Due to problems with the data, either those based on a panel study of comparable jurisdictions or longitudinal examinations of before-and-after effects of the imposition or abolishment of the death penalty, the conflicting results—yes, it was a deterrent; no, it was not, or there is clearly no effect—could not be supported.

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